Before the clock strikes midnight, and before I fall asleep on the living room sofa, I figured I had better write my post.
This time last week, I was in the early stages of what was diagnosed two days later by my primary care physician as a muscle spasm. Its greatest impact was to the neck, preventing from moving my head in any direction. I also had referred pain in the right shoulder. What followed was four days’ sick leave from school, and two visits to outpatient physical therapy. Yes; the pain was that bad.
While I have a distance to travel on the road to recovery, I am feeling significantly better. I have learned more about muscle spasms than I had ever hoped to learn. Additionally, I am blessed to have a wonderful family and wonderful friends – both virtual and in-person – who checked in on me on a daily basis. I am also blessed to have a talented and personable physical therapist who has made my first phyisical therapy experience a pleasant one thus far.
Consequently, I have not much to report from the trenches of the classroom. That said, I had gotten my students far enough along in their respective new chapters for them to take the first in a series of short mini-vocabulary quizzes, complete writing exercises where they used the vocabulary in context, and, enjoy a lesson on the history of chocolate. I returned to school on Friday, which was, to my utter surprise, remarkably stress-free, and far better than I had anticipated. I am always reluctant to face the piles of paperwork that an absence generates, which was easier to organize than I had feared. I was even able to mark two sets of vocabulary quizzes, and note which student had (not) completed which assignment (s).
I also learned several things during my time away, which bear noting in list form:
1. Students and colleagues manage fine without you. Also known as, “Out of sight, out of mind.” As much as we would like to think that our presence or, in this case, lack thereof, has a significant impact, think again. A rather sobering realization, but, one that made me even more grateful for having taken those four days off to rest and recuperate, and even more blessed for my family and friends.
2. Have sub plans at the ready. This wasn’t always the case for me. But, it isn’t fun having to think of what the students are going to do when one is in the throws of an illness. We teachers are out for planned and unplanned events. The unplanned events call for sub plans that one can attach to an email to a supervisor, if one isn’t too incapacitated. Better, yet, have hard copies of sub plan activities in a folder in a desk drawer that can be photocopied. I was feeling blessed to be able to go to my laptop, quickly locate an activity, and send it on its way.
3. Use the illness or injury to make significant lifestyle changes. My bout with a neck spasm was the result of an injury, and/or stress. Not sure which. But, given the stressors that teaching inflicts, as well as the way most of us run around all day, I could have sustained an injury that I had forgotten about. I am also a rough sleeper, which could have had an impact. So, I have purchased a laptop backpack on wheels, will invest in a Tempurpedic pillow, and, I am going to make a more significant investment in daily self-care.
I felt well enough today to do some lesson planning for the upcoming week. Tuesday is St. Valentine‘s Day. So, fun activities are indicated for Monday and Tuesday.
Be well, and, remember: Take Care of You.